Preparing to spend many days in a bikini on a beach vacation can be triggering on even the best of us. Even after spending years of my life working on positive body image and intuitive eating and movement, I still notice myself almost falling back into old habits of getting ready to be in a bikini.
Tell me if any of the below practices sound familiar to you?
- Going as hard as possible at the gym right up until the day you leave for your trip
- Eating restrictively and cutting calories
- Putting on your bikinis and harshly criticizing yourself in the mirror
YUP – we’ve all been there. And maybe you’re still there (if so, check out my 16 week mentorship program – we should chat, xo). But, after more than few shows at the rodeo, I’ve finally figured out a few simple ways to not only look my best in a bikini, but more importantly, to feel my best.
I break down some suggested practice for before, during and after your tip, but as always, what’s most important is to understand that your body and life are unique. What may work for me, may be completely wrong for you. Try on what works for you and makes you happy and feel great and take off what doesn’t!
8+ days before the trip
Food: I don’t typically make any major food adjustments this far out from a vacation. Of course, I’m always mindful of eating a diet rich in plants, high-quality proteins, fiber and healthy fats. I also always avoid processed foods and minimize sugar and unrefined carbs – so if you’re diet isn’t “clean” (which, by the way is a subjective term, but in this scenario clean meaning comprised of mostly whole, natural foods), I would suggest starting there.
Exercise: I reserve the bulk of my “harder” workouts for the weeks leading into a trip. For me, that means workouts that will put my body under stress like spin class and HIIT classes. But, I make sure to keep a variety of workout styles in the week with a ratio of 3-4 high intensity workouts with 2-3 low intensity workouts. For example, the weeks may look something like this:
- Monday: HIIT training
- Tuesday: Yoga
- Wednesday: Spin Class
- Thursday: Pilates
- Friday: HIIT Training
- Saturday: Spin Class
- Sunday: Rest
I also try to be mindful of alternating between high and low intensity workouts so I don’t overexert my body two days in a row. It’s beneficial to allow your body recover in between workouts to reduce inflammation and injury.
Lifestyle: Again, business as usual over here. Try to get plenty of sleep, reduce stress, etc. Do the usual self-care things. Be good to yourself.
7 days before the trip
- Reduce carbs: Before I get into this tip, this is NOT meant to be a form of strict restriction. It’s important to know your body and to know your body’s carb tolerance. I know that for me, if I’m to reduce carbs I can trim up a bit more. In my opinion this strategy is fine when preparing for an event or something of the sort, but strict carb restriction should not be adopted as a lifestyle choice. It’s truly not sustainable – trust me I’ve done it before.
- Eliminate sugar: I generally don’t eat a lot of sugar, but about one week out from a trip, I’ll take care to politely pass on desserts. It’s also important to know that fruit can have quite a bit of sugar in it as well. Opt for low-glycemic fruits like berries throughout the day and/or reserve your fruits with high sugar contents for the morning.
- Adjust alcohol intake: if I have a drink(s), I’ll opt for low-calorie, low-sugar options like vodka waters, tequila sodas or hard seltzers.
Exercise: When I’m 7-3 days away from a trip, I’ll front load the week with high-intensity workouts and make sure to get a lot of recovery in in between workouts (stretching, foam rolling, cryotherapy, etc.). I do this because I know I’m asking a lot of my body to go at maximum exertion that many days in a row, so I want to do what I can to help it recover. So, for example:
- 7 days left: HIIT
- 6 days left: Spin
- 5 days left: HIIT
- 4 days left: Spin
- 3 days left: Yoga
- 2 days left: Pilates
- 1 day left: Yoga
Lifestyle: The major lifestyle change I make one week away from a trip is cutting back the social calendar and commitments to barely any. I prefer to focus my attention on getting ready for the trip by exercising, getting plenty of rest and eating as many meals as possible at home. I also know that as I’ll likely be taking a few days away from work, I’ll want to spend the days leading into a trip getting ahead on work so the return to my office isn’t so overwhelming. Plus, for me travel is usually associated with chores and beauty routines like laundry, planning out my packing, doing my nails, face masks, waxing appointments, etc.
3-4 days before the trip
Food: I continue the above, but definitively cut out alcohol. Also make sure to drink plenty of water!
Exercise: Although this is counterintuitive, the last few days before I leave for vacation, I only focus on cortisol-conscious workouts like yoga and pilates. I do this because high intensity workouts release more cortisol into your body, which results in inflammation. If I’m feeling on edge or triggered, I’ll sometimes do a resistance workout with some light weight lifting.
Honestly, I really don’t restrict myself at all once on vacation. Sure, I’ll try to remember to eat vegetables or a salad, but I believe life is all about balance. Plus, when I’m traveling, I want to fully experience and immerse myself in that destination’s culture. But, here are a few tips that can make a big difference for inflammation, bloat and digestion, which I believe are really KEY to keeping things looking and feeling good.
- Start the day with lemon water: Lemon is incredible for digestion, bloat and energy. Plus, it helps balance your body’s pH level, which is likely to be thrown off while on vacation due to the extra margs, tacos, desserts and what have you.
- Travel with mini packets of your favorite supplements: personally, I love traveling with single packets of collagen to add to my coffee, MCT oil and turmeric tonics. Besides the health benefits, starting my day with travel size version of my favorite supplements I use at home, helps me feel like I haven’t totally abandoned ship while traveling.
- Bring single pack green mix powders: Similar to the above, but I had to call it out on it’s own. If you’re a superstar, maybe you’re eating greens at every meal while on vacation, but the reality is, most of us aren’t. I like to bring single packets of green powder to add to water. I usually have this drink right after my lemon water. It helps with digestion and ensure I’m at least getting some greens in.
- Opt for a healthy breakfast: I’ve learned that for me, generally once the day gets underway, it becomes increasingly difficult to make healthy choices (hello, poolside drinks), and the meal I tend to indulge the most on while traveling is dinner. So I’ll almost always make healthy choices for breakfast and lunch. For breakfasts, I like to do omelets with veggies and add an avocado (I’ll skip the toast) or an oatmeal or yogurt parfait (again, being mindful of hidden sugars because both of those meals can quickly climb in sugar content). Lunches are perfect opportunities for salads, ceviches, fish sandwiches, etc. Swap fries for salads or veggies if you can.
- Throughout the day:
- Take a digestive enzyme before all meals: I notice that my digestion gets thrown a bit off when I travel (a.k.a. I don’t poop as much), especially internationally. So, I like to make sure I take an enzyme to help my body break down the wide variety of foods I’m asking it to deal with.
- Supplement your day with a probiotic:
- Balance your drink choices: Listen, I love a good swim-up bar and a vacation cocktail. But, I’ll usually only have a few cocktails before switching to something more basic like my go-to vodka water.
- Avoid foods that may cause bloating: Here are a list of food items that may cause you to bloat: salt, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale), gum, dairy, night shades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant) and some nuts (for me it’s almonds).
- Live your life! As a health coach and someone who lives a life revolving around nutrition, I guess I should tell you to eat vegetables, drink water, skip dessert. But honestly, I don’t even do that so I’m not going to preach that you shouldn’t either. Listen to your body and give it what it wants! Some of my best, more memorable vacation meals have been filled with carbs and desserts. My only qualm is to make sure to eat high-quality foods and avoid fake, processed foods!
Exercise: Believe it or not (although, I’m sure you’ll believe it), I actually do enjoy working out on vacation. But, sometimes, especially when traveling in groups or schedules permitting, getting a workout in isn’t possible. If you can workout, some light cardio and conditioning will probably have you feeling your best. Otherwise, look for easy ways to add some extra steps and stairs into your day.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF.
Will your abs look as flat as they did right before your left for your trip? Honestly, probably not. And that’s okay. You’ve been living outside of your routine and usual eating and moving habits. But, you’ve also been living life and letting loose. Be kind to yourself and don’t attribute your self-worth to how good or bad your bikini photo for Instagram looks. In the long term, you likely won’t even remember how you looked in your bikini, but you will remember the memories you made and the fun you had.
Food: Post-vaca I always have two go-to moves:
- Significantly increasing consumption of greens: rather than focusing on “cutting carbs” or calories or anything of that sort. I instead challenge myself to eat as many greens and vegetables at possible. I start my days with a green smoothie and greens are a major player at every meal. The point is to flush my system with gut-friendly, nutrient-dense food to rid toxins and get things back in order.
- Intermittent fasting: I use IF as a way to give my digestive system a break and NOT as a means to cut back on food. Actually, when done properly you aren’t cutting calories at all during IF. You’re simply shortening the window in which you eat. I know that on vacation I ask a lot of my body, so I show it some kindness by giving it a break. See my Instagram highlights for a play-by-play of how I intermittent fast.
Exercise: Usually, by the time I get back from vacation, my body is craving a super tough, sweat-inducing workout. But again, this is not a form of punishment, but rather a response to what my body is saying it wants.